JACKSON, Tenn. – June 6, 2007– A booklet by Union University President David S. Dockery and Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George will be available to all messengers at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13.
“Building Bridges” is a compilation of the addresses by Dockery and George at the second Baptist Identity Conference, held at Union University in February. In those addresses, Dockery and George called for a renewed emphasis on Baptist history to foster a greater sense of cooperation among Southern Baptists today.
Published by Convention Press in Nashville, Tenn., the 64-page booklet includes a forward by Charles Colson and a preface by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. Convention Press printed 14,000 copies of the booklet for distribution at the SBC’s annual meeting.
“David S. Dockery and Timothy George have charted a wise and faithful course for Southern Baptists for the 21st Century,” writes Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, on the book’s back cover. “Their invitation to renewal is one worthy of following. I am extremely pleased and thankful for this consensus building project.”
In Dockery’s chapter, “A Call for Renewal, Consensus, and Cooperation,” the Union president asserts that Southern Baptists are in danger of losing the gospel itself if they continue the infighting that has characterized the denomination in recent years.
“It is time to move from controversy and confusion to a new consensus and renewed commitment to cooperation,” Dockery writes. “We need to take a step back not just to commit ourselves afresh to missions and evangelism as important as that is. We need to commit ourselves foremost to the Gospel, the message of missions and evangelism, the message that is found only in Jesus Christ and His atoning death for sinners.”
Dockery traces the history of Southern Baptists to show that they have never been a doctrinally uniform group – but rather one committed to the authority of Scripture and cooperation in reaching a world with the gospel.
The ultimate danger to the gospel doesn’t lie in the nuances of differences of opinion on secondary matters, Dockery writes, but in the rising tides of liberalism, neo-paganism and postmodernism that threaten to swamp Southern Baptist identity in cultural accommodation.
George’s chapter, “Is Jesus a Baptist,” addresses similar concerns. He advocates a retrieval of Baptist heritage as a means of renewal for the convention today. “We will not meet tomorrow’s challenge by forgetting yesterday’s dilemma, but neither will we win tomorrow’s struggles by fighting yesterday’s battles.”
George argues that a return to Baptist teachings and beliefs of the past will help Southern Baptists deal constructively with the issues and controversies they face today. “Yes, by all means, let us maintain, undergird, and strengthen our precious Baptist distinctives – our commitment to a regenerate church membership, believers’ baptism by immersion in the name of the Triune God, our stand for unfettered religious liberty, and all the rest,” George writes. “But let us do this not so that people will say how great the Baptists are, but rather what a great Savior the Baptists have, what a great God they serve!”